To reignite the “MADgic” of volunteerism, I am MAD (Making A Difference) Volunteers Inc., a nationwide nonprofit, non-governmental organization, gathered recently in Botolan, Zambales for its annual “MAD Meet.”
Formerly known as “MAD Convention,” the annual volunteers’ get-together was rebranded as MAD Meet coinciding with the celebration of the NGO’s 13th anniversary and the return of its full face-to-face community engagements.
With the theme Reignite the MADgic: Celebrating 13 Years of Volunteerism, the two-day grand reunion of volunteers from all over the country focused on rekindling the spark among past and present members, relighting their paths forward, reawakening their vision for the organization, renewing their passions, and reliving the MADgic of volunteerism for the community.
“This is one of our initiatives to bring back or reignite the MADgic within us. We tried to rebrand the gathering into a more intimate and purposeful type while maintaining the fun that we always apply in all our MAD Camps,” explained Maco Ravanzo, co-founder and chief executive volunteer of I am MAD, during the prelude program at Sambali Beach Farm.
Learning organic farming, sustainability
Ravanzo also added that the organization wants the volunteers to experience the MADgic again together and “learn something new” before they start the camps scheduled this year.
During that short visit to the farm, volunteers had the opportunity to explore, experience, and educate themselves more about organic and sustainable farming. This was initiated by the owner, Philip Camara, who then showed how the eco-farm uses biochar, or carbonized biomass, which is agricultural waste made into charcoal, to grow various vegetables and raise livestock.
Sambali Beach Farm is an organic farm in Botolan, Zambales, founded by Ching Camara that promotes sustainable farming, agritourism, and community enterprise support. The farm’s goal and vision in the long run is for the farm to be a center for sustainability and healing, as well as a place where people can go to be with nature, have clean air, and clean food.
Volunteer opportunities open for all
The volunteer group continued the remainder of the MAD Meet activities by staying at Simoy Norte Private Resort, where they were served a sumptuous meal courtesy of Ahyanella’s Samgyupsal in a Bowl and Chef’s Corner Meat Outlet.
Highlighted in a Havana-themed night, the event likewise presented the organization’s accomplishments and a fresh set of leaders, including its “Dream Team” leads for each of the 10 target areas in the Philippines, along with the official list of the 2023 MAD Camp volunteer opportunities, which are open to all.
In his short message, Christian Marx Rivero, I am MAD co-founder and chairman, reminded the volunteers about the goal and advocacy of the organization.
“A volunteer’s registration fee to a MAD Camp is not a payment for comfort. It is an investment for a lifetime experience,” said Rivero as he emphasized that joining the volunteer work of I am MAD is not for comfort but for the lessons they will gain in making a difference together with each other and the communities it serves.
Recognized by the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards Foundation, MAD Camp, the organization’s flagship program is a three-day outreach program where it gathers volunteers to facilitate values formation activities anchored on the Department of Education’s core advocacies and engage school children ages 10-12 with tasks designed to promote positive Filipino traits and inspire them to see themselves as dreamers and future leaders with a volunteer heart. Volunteers usually stay in the beneficiary school to camp. The last day is set aside for local community immersion and exploration. Know more about MAD Camp here bit.ly/madcampinfokit2023.
The night was capped off with “Gawad I am MAD” (Star MADgic Night), which recognized all the volunteers behind the successful conduct of I am MAD programs, initiatives, and engagements from the onset of the pandemic in 2020 to 2022. Some of the special awardees and raffle winners received gift certificates and other items courtesy of its sponsors — Power Mac Center, Metrobank, and CID Communication.
There was also a surprise announcement that the next MAD Meet will be held in Davao City in February 2024, which will be led by I am MAD’s resident host/voicemaster and Chief of Volunteers for Countryside, Big Jay Lagang, a news anchor from PTV Mindanao.
As schools and provinces reopen for face-to-face activities, I am MAD Volunteers Inc. is encouraging everyone to be part of its upcoming full in-person MAD Camp volunteer opportunities this year in the following areas: Albay, Davao Oriental, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Davao de Oro, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Isabela, Negros Occidental, and Bukidnon.
For details and a complete list of the official MAD Camps 2023, visit I am MAD’s Facebook page at fb.com/IamMakingADifference. Registration is now open via bit.ly/madcamp2023reg. Watch out for the Call for Volunteers music video to be released soon.